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A Whisper to a Roar

Ben Moses / United States / 2012 / 96 ' / English - Spanish - Malay - Arabic - Ukrainian / S.T. English


Sharon Franklin
Ben Moses
Harris Done
Christopher Thomas
Moustapha El Halawany
Ben Moses, Amy Martinez, Larry Diamond & Lynne Moses
Benefactor and Interviewer: Prince Moulay Hicham
Associate Producer for Archival Research: Jill Schneider
Line Producer: Christopher Pavlick

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A complex, multi-faceted and extremely dynamic snapshot of the quest for democracy in the developing world today.


French philosopher Voltaire once cautioned, “It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.” As the powerful new documentary A Whisper to a Roar demonstrates, Voltaire’s warning has never been truer than it is today. Directed by Ben Moses (Taking the Hill: The Warrior’s Journey Home) and inspired by the work of renowned democracy scholar and author Larry Diamond (The Spirit of Democracy), the film spotlights the perilous plight of pro-democracy activists in five countries as they mobilize against authoritarian governments that have been very wrong, in some cases for a very long time.

With remarkably serendipitous timing, the film coincides with a new wave of democratic movements sweeping the globe, focusing on the struggles for democracy in Egypt, Malaysia, Ukraine, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. By turns shocking, enraging and inspiring, it tracks the courageous efforts of pro-democracy leaders and protesters, highlights past and present abuses of power by authoritarian regimes, and in some cases offers a front-row seat to history-forging revolutions the filmmakers had no idea would erupt mid-production.

Based on interviews with activists, politicians, academics and journalists, the film moves across oceans and continents to construct a remarkably consistent story of the struggle for freedom. In Ukraine, it centers on the plight of pro-democracy leader Viktor Yushchenko against the Soviet-era machine personified by Viktor Yanukovych. In Venezuela, it focuses on student activists led by Roberto Patiño against the oppressive regime of President Hugo Chávez. In Egypt, it follows the heroic efforts of young tech- savvy change agents like Esraa Abdel Fattah Ahmed and Ahmed Maher in the Arab Spring overthrow of former President Hosni Mubarak. In Malaysia, it charts the campaign of former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim for democratic reform, in the face of repeated efforts by the regime to frame and victimize him. And in Zimbabwe, it follows the blood-soaked road to an uneasy power-sharing deal between pro-democracy leader Morgan Tsvangirai and the horrendously abusive regime of President Robert Mugabe.

What emerges is a complex, multi-faceted and extremely dynamic snapshot of the quest for democracy in the developing world today. With key elections on the horizon in four of the five countries, it’s a still-unfolding story, and one that begs an age-old question: What is it that drives people all across the globe to pursue so passionately the ideal of freedom—in some cases risking their lives in the process? The answer may be best summed up in another quote from the film, this one from French author Georges Bernanos: “Hope is a risk that must be run.” 


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